Gir National Park

Exploring Diversity of Flora and Fauna in Gir National Park

Seeing Asiatic Lions roaming around Gir National Park in their glory is an experience of a lifetime. The prominent fauna in Gir National Park includes around 600 Asiatic Lions, making it a famous Indian wildlife destination. It is the only place besides Africa where lions can live freely and peacefully in the wild with their family. It was a struggle to conserve Asiatic lions from the hunting done by the Junagarh locals, which resulted in a drastic decrease in their population. Finally, the Government took a step to save them and established Gir as a wildlife sanctuary on 18th September 1965. However, it is unfortunate to know they were completely wiped out from other parts of Asia, and to date, Gir National Park is the only place you can see them. Apart from all this, Gir National Park has thriving flora and fauna. Wildlife enthusiasts can see lions and other endangered species living harmoniously in the Gir’s wilderness.

Other animals found in Gir National Park are Blackbucks, Langur, golden jackals, Desert Cats, Antelope, Nilgai (Blue Bull), Indian Cobras, Rusty-Spotted Cats, Sambar, Indian Gazelle, Wild Boar, Four-Horned Chinkara, Indian Palm Civets, Indian Mongoose, and more. Some bird species living in Gir Forest include the Brown Fish Owl, Crested Tree Swift, Indian Pitta, and Indian Woodpecker. Regarding flora in Gir National Park, the deciduous forests cover a significant part of the forest. These include open and thorny shrubs and savannah grassland where plants like Prosopis and Casuarina are found. So, if you seek a wildlife experience in Gir National Park, check out the flora and fauna in Gir for an unforgettable tour.

Fauna of Gir National Park

The fauna of Gir National Park is categorized into groups, namely – 

  • Gir Carnivores (Mongoose, Jungle Cats, Indian Palm Civets, Asiatic Lions, Indian Cobras, etc.)
  • Gir Herbivores (Sambar, Nilgai, Chital, Wild Boar, Antelope, etc.)
  • Gir Mammals (Hare, Porcupine, etc.)
  • Gir Reptiles (Monitor Lizard, Hir Tortoise, Pythons, March crocodiles, etc.)
  • Gir Birds (Brown fish owl, Pygmy woodpecker, Crested serpent eagle, Crested Treeswift, etc.)

There are about 2,375 diverse ranges of fauna species living in the park. But the star attraction is, of course, the Asiatic Lions. Apart from lions and leopards, the Gir forest also houses 300 bird species, 37 reptile species, 38 mammal species, and 2000 insect species. 

Here is a detailed description of the commonly found fauna in Gir National Park:

Mammals

Gir National Park’s forest area has dry and deciduous forests, which are habitats for the Asiatic Lions. As per the new statistics for 2020, the entire Saurashtra Region is inhabited by 674 Lions. Similarly, as per a 2016 census, there are around 450 leopards in Junagadh and Gir-Somnath.

Apart from these two, the national park has two species of deer, including Sambar, India’s largest deer. Further, only four-horned antelopes, Chowsingha, are found here. Some smaller carnivores in Gir Forest include the Jackal, Indian Fox, and Striped Hyena.

Asiatic Lions 

The scientific name of Asiatic Lions is Panthera leo persica. They are among the most charismatic big cats in the world. Compared to African lions, Asiatic lions are a little smaller and roam large areas of deciduous forests and grasslands. They prefer shady riverine habitats and hot and arid seasons.

Unfortunately, throughout the 19th century, they decreased in number due to extreme hunting by British officers and Indian kings. And by the end of the 19th century, only a dozen were left in the country. Today, Asiatic Lions are seen in Gir National Park, a forest, national park, and wildlife sanctuary. As per a recent census, there are 674 lions in Gir. The male Asiatic lion is, on average, 9 feet from head to tail and weighs about 160 kg. In comparison, females are smaller and weigh around 120 kg.

Asiatic Lions have visible skin along the central part of their abdomen; their fur and mane color depend on the region. Their tone tends to blend in with the golden hues of the grassy scrublands. When it comes to hunting, lions in Gir prefer hunting chital, sambar deer, nilgai, domestic water buffalo, and cattle. Male Asiatic Lions roam, hunt, rest, and feed with a large group or up to only three. On the other hand, female lions form a group of twelve individuals, both adults and cubs. When they hunt, they carcass each other and rarely do this with males.

Indian Leopards

The Indian Leopards have large rosettes with a paler skin coat in desert habitats. They are greyer in colder climates and more ochre in rainforest habitats. The pattern of the rosettes is used to identify leopards and tell them apart. Like other leopard subspecies, the leopards in India are solitary predators who hide well at night and come down from the trees during the day to hunt.

Indian Leopards co-exist with Bengal Tigers, Striped Hyenas, and Dhole and, unlike them, drag their kills up trees. They are hunters known for their strength rather than speed, as they have large skulls and powerful jaw muscles to kill medium-sized herbivores. Their diet mainly contains Chital, Langur, and Sambar, but they also prey on Dogs, horses, Spotted Deer, Porcupine, and cattle.

Birds

Gir National Park’s avifauna contains more than 425 species of birds. The sanctuary has been declared a significant bird area by the Indian Bird Conservation Network. The national park is home to raptors like the endangered white-backed and long-billed Vulture, the vulnerable Greater Spotted Eagle, the endangered Palla’s Fish Eagle, and the Egyptian Vulture.

Other birds of prey found here are the Crested Serpent Eagle and the Changeable Hawk Eagle. Birds you can spot while driving around Gir include the Fantail, the Asian Paradise Flycatcher, and the Red-breasted Flycatcher.

The Crested Serpent Eagle

In Southeast Asia, the Crested Serpent Eagle lives in primary forests, rocky hilltops, mangroves, savannas, and well-wooded hills near agricultural fields. They fly up to 2,000 meters above sea level, but researchers have also documented them flying about 3,000 meters or higher. As for their size and color, they vary, but their crest is usually dark, short, and round. The eagle has broad wings and a white band near the end of its tail. They primarily hunt snakes and prefer tree snakes. They also hunt lizards, grogs, mammals, eels, and termites.

The Egyptian Vulture

They are among the few bird species that use tools. They use smooth stones to break into eggs and have been seen using sticks to collect and roll wool, which they use as lining in their nests. They play a significant role in Egyptian culture and are represented in hieroglyphics. The Egyptian Vulture’s scientific name is Neophron percnopterus, and scientists have identified three different subspecies. They are among the critically endangered species found in Gir National Park.

Reptiles

With more than 40 species, reptiles in Sasan Gir include the King Cobra, The Russell’s Viper, the Saw-scaled Viper, and the Krait. The reptiles and amphibians live in a large reservoir in the Gir sanctuary called Kamleshwar. The most commonly found reptile here is the Marsh Crocodile. In addition, you can spot star tortoises and freshwater turtles. Soft-shelled turtles, monitor lizards, and Indian rock pythons are also found here in large numbers. There is a crocodile hatchery at Gir National Park that might interest you as well.

King Cobra

This snake resides in northern India, China, the Malay Peninsula, Indonesia, and the Philippines. King Cobra is an aggressive snake with an average size of 3 to 3.6 meters but can reach 5.4 meters. They live in dense or open forests, adjacent agricultural areas, bamboo thickets, and mangrove swamps. You can see them near streams with steady temperature and humidity levels. A fully grown King Cobra is yellow, brown, green, or black. Also, they have a yellowish or white crossbar with a uniform-colored belly with bars.

The Russell’s Viper

A venomous snake sound in Asia, The Russell’s Viper, is named after Patrick Russell, a Scottish herpetologist who was the first to describe many of India’s snakes. It is among the four giant snakes in India and is the reason for most snake bite incidents and deaths among all deadly snakes. As for their color, they are deep yellow, brown, or tan with three series of dark brown spots on their body. Each place has a black ring around it, and the outer border has a rim of white or yellow. In addition, their head has dark patches, which can be pinkish, salmon, or brownish.

Also Check out Popular Gir Wildlife Tour Packages

Flora of Gir National Park

Gir National Park has a diverse range of flora. The forest has evergreen and semi-evergreen trees along with deciduous trees. Moreover, mixed forest zones, open and thorny scrub jungles, and savannah-type grasslands exist. A more significant part of the Gir forest is occupied by a mixed and deciduous forested belt, and it has teak trees. Acacia, Babool, Tendu, Zizyphas, Banyan, Jamun, Dhak, Flame of the Forest, etc., are some evergreen broad-leaved trees found at Gir. Likewise, Ber, Bamboo, Khakhro, Simal, Amla, Vad, Kalam, etc., are commonly found in Gir.

Here is a detailed description of the commonly found flora in Gir National Park:

Prosopis 

This tree thrives in sandy, rocky, poor, and saline soils from 300 to 1900 meters above sea level. They are thorny shrubs or trees that grow to a height of 15 meters. Prosopis juliflora has a thick, rough, gray-green bark and, with age, becomes scaly. They are also often multi-stemmed and decked with large, sharp thorns measuring up to 5 centimeters. Prosopis is deeply rooted, with 6 to 8 centimeters long leaves. They produce fragrant golden-yellow flowers with dense spikes.

Casuarina 

Casuarina equisetifolia is a deciduous tree found in open coastal habitats like sand beaches, rocky coasts, and dunes. They grow over 30.5 meters in height and are found in Southeast Asia and Australia. They were also introduced in Florida, USA, in the late 1800s. Casuarina trees are usually reddish-brown with gray bark, which is brittle. Male flowers on the tree occur in terminal spikes, while female flowers are small. They produce tiny fruits with one seed. The fruits are in woody, cone-like structures.

Teak Trees

Teak Trees have medicinal value and are used to make medicine in Asia. They have astringent and diuretic properties that help to reduce swelling. Teak is a hardwood tree that grows in South Asia, usually in India, Myanmar, Indonesia, and Thailand. They grow up to 45.5 meters tall and live for about 100 years. Teak trees are reddish-green and very rough to the touch. They also shed leaves in the dry season and then regrow in the monsoon. Teak trees also bear fruits called drupes. Apart from this, they are used for commercial purposes as lumber. Entrepreneurs have built plantations to grow Teak as it is a valuable tree.

Plan a visit to witness the variety of flora and fauna in Gir National Park, one of India’s top wildlife destinations. It is heaven for wildlife buffs, with so much to observe and experience. Spot Asiatic lions and different flora to make your tour memorable. For a smooth wildlife tour in India, choose Indian Visit wildlife tour packages and hassle-free explore the best of nature and wildlife.

Also, read the following Blog on Gir National Park:

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